MSU, Tulane Renew Series For Four Games

When Mississippi State and Tulane get together Saturday evening in the Louisiana Superdome the game will end a five-year, inter-conference series between the programs. Yet at the same time it is the start of another extended contract, albeit an interrupted one.

According to director of athletics Larry Templeton, the Bulldogs and Green Wave are beginning a fresh contract with this 2007 meeting. "We've got a new four-year deal going," Templeton told reporters this week. But, he explained, the second game is not until 2011, a series renewal reported in Dawgs' Bite Magazine's summer edition. That game will be played at Scott Field.

Mississippi State returns to New Orleans in 2012, and Tulane is back in Starkville in 2013.

It had been thought that this '07 game wrapped up a five-year contract between SEC-member State and Tulane of Conference-USA. That contract actually only covered the four games from 2003-06, which itself renewed a series that had been halted after 1994. For that matter the Bulldogs and Green Wave didn't meet from 1966-81 after Tulane withdrew from the Southeastern Conference. From 1982-94 the Bulldogs won ten of 12 meetings.

So, this year's game is the first of a new contract though it will not be continuous. Templeton said State tried to make it so, if not longer. As late as Wednesday this week he was talking to Tulane about a 2008 game. Tulane declined.

And this in turn leaves a hole in Mississippi State's slate for next season which has only 11 games secured. Besides the annual five SEC West games and ‘permanent' inter-Division game with Kentucky, the '08 Bulldogs are hosting Vanderbilt (which replaces South Carolina on the SEC rotation) and going to Tennessee. The out-of-conference games set are home dates with Alabama-Birmingham and Central Michigan, and a road game at Georgia Tech. Those latter two games will reverse the sites in 2009.

Mississippi State has been conversing and even negotiating with many programs all around the country about the '08 opening. Templeton thought he had a seventh home game lined up, but "My other deal fell through, the game we were working on for 2008." He would not reveal who that was, though it is known Mississippi State has talked to, among others, Pittsburgh and Southeastern Louisiana.

Templeton wants that game to be at home, and to be a I-A (or ‘Bowl Division' team in the current parlance) opponent if possible. Though he adds, "We're mindful that we've already got Georgia Tech the week before" the needed date. He said Mississippi State is not looking for a ‘buy' game either, or to be paid well to make a single road trip in '08. But by the same token for State to ‘buy' a visitor from a minor conference or even I-AA is not a sure thing. State did so earlier this decade only to have that team a year later void the contract—and pay the penalty—to accept a much more lucrative offer from another SEC West squad than anything MSU can afford to offer.

Thus even as the 2007 season gets going the administration searches for the best, from fiscal and physical standpoints, available deal to fill the gap in the 2008 schedule. "There are either some really strong (teams)," Templeton said. "Or some dates that won't work. That's the other problem. When they've already got 11, we've got 11, finding the right date certainly isn't easy."

The 2009 schedule is not finalized either, though it is set State goes to Central Michigan and Houston and hosts Georgia Tech.

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